The Most Important Decision in Life

2023 Commencement Address

The following is adapted from a speech delivered on May 13, 2023, at Hillsdale College’s 171st Commencement Ceremony.

Congratulations to the Hillsdale College Class of 2023. It is a thrill to be here at Hillsdale, which I have heard about for a long time. Last night I had a wonderful tour of campus, and the evening culminated in a concert in your beautiful chapel. The concert included Mahler’s First Symphony played by the student orchestra and was just marvelous.

When I was a theology professor, I taught a course on the Reformation for many years, taking seriously the works of Luther and Calvin and other reformers. I believe the questions the reformers raise, questions that still divide the churches, are important. But right now, all of us who believe in God and are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ have a common enemy in the agnosticism, atheism, and nihilism that are deeply affecting our culture and especially the minds of young people. I believe it is important for us to join together in common cause against this common enemy. And it is in that spirit that I come before you today.

It is to the permanent honor of this college that it was founded, almost 180 years ago, by Free Will Baptists who were committed to the abolition of slavery. Hillsdale’s founders were on the right side of the most compelling moral debate of the nineteenth century—and it is worth remarking that the leadership of this college today finds itself on the right side of the most pressing ethical argument of our time—namely, the protection of the unborn.


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